MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report: ‘Condor Liberation’ Poole-Guernsey 7 June 2019

MARINElife/Guernsey WLO Terry Bridgwood

Weather: Cloudy, rain and windy.

Summary of sightings:

Manx Shearwater
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern

Terrestrial birds
Little Egret

I had an early start to get to Poole in time for departure and the journey down did not bode well with overcast skies and rain. Check in was swift and I was soon aboard the Condor Liberation, smiling crew welcoming us aboard. When we started moving I went to the information point, introduced myself to the cabin manager, took a few MARINElife leaflets, donned my WLO vest and headed out on deck.

Whatever the weather I'm always excited to see what wildlife is about and ever hopeful of seeing dolphins, especially as there had been recent sightings of some in and around Poole harbour. Passing Brownsea Island I saw Common and Sandwich Terns, Cormorants, Shags and assorted gulls.

Poole pilot Terry Bridgwood
Poole pilot boat (Terry Bridgwood)

As we passed Old Harry Rock a few people appeared on deck to take photographs. A passenger asked what I was doing and I explained about the work MARINElife does and how Condor Ferries supports the charity. He stayed on deck watching out from the other side of the deck, we agreed we would shout to each other if we saw anything of interest - unfortunately the need didn't arise. Unusually the pilot boat stayed with us out past Old Harry Rock and It turned out that they were rescuing a life raft. Hopefully here was no one on board and it had just been lost at sea.

Crossing the Channel I saw Guillemots and Manx Shearwaters, the latter living up to their name and shearing up and down between the waves. As we approached Ortac rock the number of Gannets increased, although the inclement weather meant there were not as many as usual and as we neared Guernsey a lone Fulmar passed us.

Condor Liberation Terry Bridgwood 01
Condor Liberation at St Peter Port (Terry Bridgwood)

Upon reaching Guernsey I disembarked and had a wander around St Peter Port before returning to have lunch in the port café. Back at the ferry terminal I checked in and waited in the departure lounge. I fell into conversation with a gentleman who told me that he was born on the island but was evacuated during the war and only returned to visit an aunt still living on the island. He recommended Les Roquettes Hotel for food - a bit of a walk out of town but I may check it out on my next visit.

Back on board the Liberation I headed up onto the viewing deck and was joined by the same gentleman as on the way over, we were both excited to see a Little Egret flying overhead just before we departed. Once we had passed Ortac rock I headed below deck to seek shelter from the rain and circulated around the cabin to chat to some of the passengers.

All too soon we were back at Poole and disembarked and went our separate ways.